22 Apr 2021

Madras High Court dismisses petition to ban Kangana Ranaut's Thalaivi

Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy of Madras High Court recently refused for interim injunction on the release of a movie “Thalaivi” and web series “Queen” which were genered as a biopic of Late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. An application was filed by her niece J Deepa (applicant) against Mr. A.L. Vijay, Mr. Vishnu Vardhan Induri and Mr. Gowtham Vasudev Menon (respondents), to stop their releases and also claiming that such release were scheduled to be made without her prior permission, resulting in affecting her privacy.

BRIEF FACTS OF THE CASE:

  1. The present petition was filed by Late Shree J Jayalalithaa’s niece, J Deepa, in order to protect her aunt’s Right to Privacy granted under Article-21 of the Indian Constitution.
  2. The applicant claimed that the movie and web series were envisaged without seeking her prior consent. The plaintiff further claimed that she hasn’t read any script of the said projects, thus, she is unaware that the scripts drafted are whether with bona-fide intentions or mala-fide intentions.
  3. The plaintiff also claims that the scripts can portray untrue image of Late Shree J Jayalalithaa and her family. Hence, defaming her image and name in public.
  4. The respondents claimed that both movie and web series are based upon a book title “Thalaivi” and “Queen” respectively, and is based upon true events in the life of Late Shree Jayalalithaa. Also, both the projects does not portray even a single scene of the plaintiff and her family, thus, the respondent claims that there is no infringement of their Right to Privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  5. The respondent also claims that all the information scripted in their projects is received from the public records which are not defamatory in any context and the general public is also aware of such information. Therefore, the respective projects do not hurt any individual’s sentiments.

 

LEGAL ISSUE:

  1. Whether the respondent has actually caused any adverse effect on the image and privacy of the Plaintiff and her family?
  2. Whether any life-story projected on the basis of true events received from public records and media is unlawful?
  3. Whether for portraying anybody’s biopic relying upon public records requires necessarily consent of that person?

 

OBSERVATIONS MADE BY THE MADRAS HIGH COURT:

The court held that the respondents have adapted their script from the books “Thalaivi” and “Queen” respectively, which has been already in use. Further, the respondents have also undertaken that there would be no usage of the name of Plaintiff and her family in any scene. Moreover, the Plaintiff is not the daughter of Late Shree J Jayalalithaa and even does not live in the same household, therefore, the plaintiff has no right to seek for interim injunction.

The court also referred to the Supreme Court cases R. Rajagopal V/s. State of Tamil Nadu (Autoshankar case) and K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India (2017) and concluded that there is no requirement for consent if the biopic is based upon any Public Figure and such contents are taken from public records. It also concluded that even though the Right to Privacy and Right of Freedom of Expression, both the rights are fundamental rights, the respondent’s right weighed over the plaintiff’s rights.

The court further added that both the film and web series will be subjected for certification by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and in case there will be any objectionable scene, the CBFC will raise objection or will ask to strike that particular content before granting certification for the respective projects.

The court also asked the respondent of the web series to mention the disclaimer about the content that it is fictional and resemblance to real person is coincidental and nothing is created to hurt anybody’s sentiments.

Thus, the court was in believe that the respondents of movie and web series does not infringe any Right to Privacy of the Plaintiff and her family granted under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and hence restrained from granting of interim injunction or to ban the release of movie or the web series.